A mother of an eight year old daughter who is having severe emotional
problems has come to me for help with the conflicts she is having with the
girl’s father. Their brief marriage ended just after the girl was
There are a couple of upcoming meetings with the daughter’s school and with
the clinic which is addressing her emotional problems. These meetings could be
held separately with mom and dad or they could happen together. It is hard for
the parents to be in the same room with each other but Mom wants to work at
addressing the issues between her and Dad so that their daughter experiences
When Mom received an email from school about the plan for separate meetings
she hit “reply all” and suggested they meet together. She then contacted Dad to
suggest that they should work at working together. He replied that she was once
again trying to control everything and that he had set up a separate meeting.
Mom wrote to me aware that the feelings she had discovered of a sense of
strength and purpose in acting on behalf of her daughter had withered in the
face of Dad’s attack. She was again feeling sad and weak.
My response to her: I hear your discouragement at how Dad is
showing up in the relationship with you and that your efforts at reconciliation
are no match for his efforts at alienation. You are noticing that the feelings
you have about yourself for what you are trying to do changed back in just 24
hours and you would like to recover a sense of power and purpose. So let me
offer a couple of observations.